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Josef Newgarden Dominates Saturday At Iowa

Josef Newgarden won for the fourth time at one of his favorite tracks. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was the class of the field on Saturday by leading a total of 208 laps in the 250-lap race, dominating the 250 presented by DoorDash at Iowa Speedway.

This is Newgarden’s fourth win of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season and his fourth Iowa win. He battled his teammate Will Power for most of the day, but it was Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward, who attempted to make a last-ditch run on Newgarden.

“I am glad I wore this cool shirt because it was nice and easy,” Newgarden said. “To be honest with you, I felt nice and cool today and this car was good. I was surprised at how hard these guys were pushing on these restarts.

“You know, this was a long game day and I think (Pato) O’Ward definitely looked like he was the toughest competitor today to beat. But I am really proud of our team and obviously, Hitachi and Team Chevy showed up with a really good piece.”

Pato O’Ward needed to cool down post-race, following a strong second-place result on a hot day in Iowa. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

Despite closing the gap, O’Ward faded in the final few laps to a 6.1-second deficit. Out of the 26 starters, only five drivers finished on the lead lap.

“I was pushing Josef (Newgarden) there at the end, but we didn’t quite have it,” O’Ward said. “We kept making the car better and better each stint. There at the end, I think we took a little bit out of them getting by Will (Power) and getting by Alex (Palou) and getting back the lappers trying to catch the No. 2.”

There were a lot of comers and goers throughout the race, thanks to the type of tire Firestone usually brings to Iowa, which produces high tire degradation. Drivers had to manage their tires and execute the perfect strategy to put themselves into contention when it mattered the most.

According to Race Strategy Prediction powered by NTT, the three-stop strategy had a 90% chance of being the winning strategy and that’s the same number of times Newgarden pitted. Scott Dixon in fifth-place was the highest finishing driver on the four-stop strategy.

Championship points leader Marcus Ericsson had a close call on Lap 165. Ed Carpenter was struggling in the bottom lane with an ill-handling car and spun out right in front of Ericsson. Carpenter hit the wall and that was the end of his race.

Prior to that, Ericsson had another close while battling Newgarden for the lead. They were running 1-2 at the time and almost threw it all away when they barely touched wheels going for the top spot.

Ericsson entered the day with a 35-point lead over Power and the gap shrunk to 15 points after an eight-place finish for the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Newgarden’s win helped the No. 2 team jump ahead of Power, moving the 31-year-old American into second-place in the points.

Marcus Ericsson tried to find the right balance between points racing and going all out for the win. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

“I feel good,” Newgarden said. “We have been in the game, just not where we want to be in the game. I think if we were ahead by a good bit, that would be a lot better position to be in at this point of the year. But you know, we are in the fight, and we are relatively there and we just have to find out how to have more consistency. We are either winning or going sideways on our weekend.

“I know we can do better than this. It’s not that we haven’t been doing good, I just know consistently we can do better than what we have been doing. We will get there, and I always have faith every weekend that I show up with Team Penske.”

Felix Rosenqvist’s race ended on Lap 111 when the Arrow McLaren SP driver lost control of his car and backed it into the wall entering Turn 2. This was the last thing Rosenqvist needed because he’s trying to prove to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown that he should remain in IndyCar over Formula E.

Jimmie Johnson brought out the first caution of the afternoon on Lap 17 when the No. 48  Chip Ganassi Racing Honda clipped the apron and spun off the exit of Turn 4.

Surprisingly, Johnson didn’t hit anything, pitted for a fresh set of Firestone tires and rejoined the race. It’s a rare sight on IndyCar oval tracks to see a driver lose control and not end up with a wrecked car.

“In a Cup car, you can always hang your left-front tire on the paint, it doesn’t work in an Indy car,” Johnson said. “I figured that out.”

Jimmie Johnson’s years of NASCAR Cup Series experience came in handy and learned a lot ahead of Sunday’s second race in the Iowa doubleheader weekend. (Photo: Karl Zemlin | Penske Entertainment)

For the rest of his race, all eyes were on Johnson. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion showed everyone why he was very successful on ovals during his stock car days. Johnson quickly moved back up the running order, got up into the top-five on raw speed and even led a total of 19 laps during a pit sequence.

During the final stint, Johnson battled for a top-five finish, but he faded near the end and ultimately had to settle for 11th-place. This was his best IndyCar race since he dazzled the motorsports world by finishing sixth earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway.

“That was just a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “Had the outside lane working, a lot of those restarts, making up spots, racing hard with the regulars out front. It was a lot of fun.” 250 presented by DoorDash Top-10 Results: Newgarden, O’Ward, Power, VeeKay, Dixon, Palou, Grosjean, Ericsson, Rahal, Lundgaard.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Multimedia Producer at GRID Network.

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